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Mphoko Buries The 'Iron Lady Of Masvingo'





Mphoko Buries The 'Iron Lady Of Masvingo'
It was a majestic send-off for national heroine Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Ben Mahofa, a veteran politician, who was laid to rest before thousands of people at the National Heroes Acre yesterday. Sen Mahofa died at Makurira Memorial Clinic after collapsing at her Rhodene home in Masvingo on Sunday last week.

Celebrated as a steadfast proponent of development, Sen Mahofa's burial yesterday drew mourners who included high-ranking Government officials and Zanu-PF members, diplomats, captains of industry, friends and relatives.

Proceedings began in the morning with hundreds of mourners converging at Stodart Hall in Mbare, Harare, for body-viewing. Groups of women and youths sang songs celebrating the life of Sen Mahofa.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who was accompanied by his wife Laurinda, led the body-viewing ceremony.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Miriam Chikukwa, Senate President Edna Madzongwe, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and service chiefs attended the brief ceremony at Stodart Hall.

Others who were present included relatives, friends, senior Zanu-PF officials and party youths who were singing and dancing. After body-viewing, the body was ferried to its final resting place at the national shrine on a gun carriage.

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The white casket bearing the body of the veteran politician was draped in national colours.

The national shrine was a hive of activity, with musical groups crooning as dignitaries arrived ahead of the burial.

Banners inscribed with messages extolling the virtues of Mai Mahofa were all over the shrine.

"Gwendo Gwenyu Gwafambwa," screamed one banner.

Another banner read "Champion of empowerment" in recognition of Sen Mahofa's initiatives for women empowerment in Masvingo. But it was the banner inscribed "Chikoforo, Simbi Yebasa", which proved popular.

Reverend Togarirepi Chivaviro stole the hearts of mourners when he belted out his hit song Ebenezer. Rev Chivaviro is a nephew to Sen Mahofa.

However, a sombre atmosphere engulfed the shrine when the body arrived accompanied by Vice President Mphoko.

Pall bearers in a slow march took the casket to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for formalities.

The proceedings then commenced with Rev Rangarirai Mutsotso of the Reformed Church leading in prayer.

When he took to the podium, the family spokesperson and Sen Mahofa's grandson Mr Hurbert Mahofa, hailed President Mugabe and Zanu-PF for according his grandmother, whom he described as the "Iron Lady of Masvingo", national heroine status.

He spoke glowingly of his grandmother for championing the cause of women and youth employment in Masvingo and initiating projects around Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and the Beitbridge-Harare highway.

"Now that Gogo is gone. Let us shun tribalism, regionalism, sexism and all the other bad things," said Mr Mahofa, who said his grandmother was a peace-loving woman who did not discriminate any one because of race, gender or tribe.

"My Gogo's compassion and generosity knew no boundaries. She supported Barcelona FC and liked Lionel Messi."

Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Advocate Minister Advocate Martin Dinha said: "Mai Mahofa was a very illustrious daughter of the soil. She deserved to be buried here. As one of our own we are happy that good works in terms of initiating development in Masvingo and uniting the province and her work nationally, during the liberation struggle and after, has been recognized. We are very relieved as one of our own that Government has seen that Ministers of Provincial Affairs wherever there are play a pivotal role in the development of the country. This makes us very happy."

Rev Chivaviro said his aunt was a family unifier who was gifted in terms of solving problematic issues in the family.

"She was politically busy but she would always find time for the family and relatives. She was a responsible aunt who was always available whenever you wanted to see her," he said.

Asked how he felt when he sang the song Ebenezer in tribute to his aunt, Rev Chivaviro said he felt emotional because Mai Mahofa was not only his aunt but the biggest fan of his music. "She would buy my CD's and distribute them in her constituency, supporting me," he said.

Rev Chivaviro said he was considering composing a song in Senator Mahofa's honour.

Secretary for administration in the Zanu-PF Women's League Letitia Undenge also paid tribute to Mai Mahofa.

She said: "Mai Mahofa was part of our executive. In terms of her execution of duty she was quite diligent. A pillar of strength and most of the contribution that she made to the Women's League saw the league at the next higher level every time."

Undenge said Mai Mahofa was a loving person who would sadly be missed given her astuteness in uniting the people.

"She was courageous and liked to stress a point on what she believed in and encouraged women to do projects as well as working hard."

National political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who nicknamed Mai Mahofa "Chikoforo", described her as a true liberator of the armed struggle, who worked for the party and the nation with great commitment and dedication.

On Friday, hundreds of people thronged Mpandawana Growth Point in Gutu to receive the body of national heroine.

Sen Mahofa died at Makurira Memorial Hospital in Masvingo.

She was 76.

Sen Mahofa had battled poor health since 2015. She was declared a national heroine and was buried at the National Heroes Acre yesterday.

Sen Mahofa was born in 1941 in Chivi. She attended Chibi Mission and Morgenster Mission schools.

Sen Mahofa enrolled for a nurse training course at Morgenster Mission where she attained a Diploma in Nursing between 1958 and 1960.

In 1973 she enrolled for a Diploma in Community Development at Domboshava Training Centre and was active in early nationalist politics that saw her joining the United National Democratic Party. She then joined Zapu in 1960 and Zanu in 1963.

Sen Mahofa was a renowned war collaborator, who worked with the likes of late national hero Dr Simon Mazorodze supplying clothes and medicines to freedom fighters.

From 1980 to 1984 she was councillor for Ward 20 in Tirizi, Gutu, and at the same time served as the first woman council chairperson for Gutu District.

Minister Mahofa was elected Gutu South Member of Parliament in 1985 and occupied the seat until 2008.

She also served as the first Zanu-PF Women's League provincial leader for Masvingo in the 1980s.

Minister Mahofa served as deputy Minister of Women's Affairs from 1987 to 1992 and Political Affairs Deputy Minister from 1992 to 1997.

From 1998 to 2007 she served as Deputy Minister of Gender and Youth Development.

In 2013 she was elected Senator before her appointment as Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister in February 2015, a post she was currently occupying.

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Mphoko Buries The 'Iron Lady Of Masvingo'
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